This week I attended a Christian youth conference and one of the speakers challenged all the attendees to save at least $1 a week for the next year to contribute to a special missions project. Assuming there were about 4000 people attending, that multiplies out to be $208,000 for the year. If the average went up to $5 a week per person, that crowd would generate over $1 million dollars for missions! It’s really remarkable to think that such a small effort like socking away $1-5 a week could amount to such huge results, but it can. That’s exactly why we shouldn’t disrespect the crumbs! You can revisit a post about this very topic called The Power of the Crumbs where we discuss it. Moreover, I was thrilled to see such a practical appeal for giving systematically (since you know I’m all for that)!
So in conjunction with that message I heard, I thought we would throw out a rapid list of simple ways to save or generate at least $1 a week. Obviously, this ENTIRE blog is dedicated to how to save money, but we’re keeping this list to simple ideas that don’t involve significant effort, education, or life changes. Things like going vegetarian, finding side hustles, and insulating your house (all things you should do anyway, I might add) would go on a separate list.
20 Easy Ways to Save $1 or More!
- Use the Library – Instead of buying or renting films, check your library and borrow books and DVDs instead of buying them from Amazon.
- Adjust Your Thermostat by 3-4 Degrees – Turn the A/C up by a few degrees in the summer and turn the heat down by a few degrees in the winter. If it’s cold, put on a pair of house shoes and a sweatshirt and you won’t tell the difference. Each degree you adjust your thermostat (up or down depending on season) can save about 3% on your bill. A 3-4 degree difference can cut your bill by 10%!
- Hang Dry Your Clothes – A typical load of laundry in my electric dryer costs around 75 cents the last I calculated. With 2 loads typically per week, we’ve saved $1.50 by hang drying instead (yes, even in the winter).
- Turn Stuff Off then Unplug Them – We all know to turn off lights and ceiling fans in rooms we’re not using (you ARE doing that already, right?!), but often we leave tons of electronics plugged in all the time. Even if they are off, there is a “phantom draw” that’s trickling current to electronics that are off. Unplug them or plug them into a power strip that you can flip completely off when things aren’t in use.
- Sell Stuff – Exchange those old books, old tools, old kitchen appliances, old children still living at home (just kidding!) for cash. Craigslist and eBay are good online options, or a good old-fashioned garage sale always works too.
- Drink Water – Skip the purchased beverages all together. Yes, that’s the Starbucks, vending machines, energy drinks, and EVEN BOTTLED WATER. Filter your water, use a water bottle, and you’ll be saving multiple dollars every week.
- Stop the Snacks – While you’re at it, forgo the in-between meal snacks too. Skipping the chips and crackers can save you crumbs literally on your lap and figuratively in your wallet!
- Return Shopping Carts – In stores like ALDI where shopping carts require a quarter to be released from their pen, you can easily generate $1 a week by returning 4 stray carts (or offering to do it for people) from the parking lot.
- Use Discounted Gift Cards – Check out sites like Cardpool and Gift Card Rescue to purchase discounted gift cards to use for your regular purchases. You may save as much as 35%!
- Use Online Rebate Sites – Check out BigCrumbs a site where you can get a rebate on your purchases simply by clicking through a link on their site first to most online retailers.
- Carpool – Reduce your driving by carpooling with friends or family.
- Walk/Bike Instead of Driving – If you live in an area that’s conducive, walking and biking will save you gas plus improve your health. Double score!
- Skip Eating Out – Our philosophy is that eating out isn’t a means to obtain physical sustenance, but rather a recreational activity where we go for the experience. So that means eating out is a discretionary expense in the same class as going on vacation to the Bahamas. But, in keeping with the intent of this post to keep things simple, just by brown bagging your lunch ONE DAY a week, you’ll instantly save much more than $1.
- Fast One Meal a Week – If you want to take it a step further, by fasting one meal a week, you’ve saved the cost of that meal. In our home, since we work sedentary jobs, we only eat two meals a day, everyday.
- Organize Your Kitchen & Use Stuff Up – Take a little time to reorganize your kitchen cupboards and pantry. You’ll probably find loads of stuff that you forgot you had. It may save you an entire trip to the grocery store. Use stuff up and don’t load up any more.
- Dilute the Milk for Your Cereal – We don’t drink dairy milk, so we do this with our almondmilk and soymilk. We eat lots of cold cereal (homemade granola, mainly) and we noticed that when we dilute our milk half and half with water, we don’t even notice the difference. A typical half-gallon carton of Silk Soymilk costs about $3.50 right now, so stretching it twice as long essentially cuts the cost in half.
- Break Bad Habits – If you have an addiction of some sort (cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, music, video games, smartphone apps, etc.) that’s draining your wallet, break those habits and you’ll be amazed how much money you’ll have left over.
- Buy Generic/Private Label Brands – Sometimes you get what you pay for, but sometimes the cheaper option is just as good. This is especially true for generic over-the-counter medications, but can be also true for many private label products you find in your grocery store. ALDI is the king of the private label discount grocers, check out our full analysis here: Why ALDI Should Be Your Best Friend.
- Switch to an Online Bank – By simply switching to a bank with an interest rate of 1% instead of 0.02%, your savings account of $5000 will earn close to $50 more in just one year—nearly equivalent to a dollar a week. We recommend you check out Ally Bank or Capital One 360, and you can read our post about them here.
- Add Oatmeal to Your Breakfast – Oatmeal is one of the heartiest, healthiest, and cheapest foods around. Add it to your breakfast, and it’ll keep you from needing to fill up on more expensive stuff plus it’ll keep you full longer—saving you from losing the crumbs in your pocket and from your stomach growling an hour before lunchtime.
Ready to REALLY Save the Crumbs?
Some of you reading this list might be thinking, “I could do a lot better than this!” At least that’s what we HOPE you’re thinking! Indeed, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ways to massively decrease our living expenses, and we’ve written about some such strategies already. To take a deeper dive into how we save major crumbs (over 50% of our income) while still giving generously to our church and charity, here are some previous posts that you might be interested in:
- Our Finances Exposed! & Revealing Our Monthly Budget – These two posts give you some context of how much we make, spend, and give away. It also offers a peek into how we budget our expenses.
- Frugal Traits to Look for in a Husband & Frugal Traits to Look for in a Wife – An important key to living frugally is to MARRY THE RIGHT PERSON, then stay together on the same page financially. We share some of the key attributes that we believe are key to a financially happy marriage.
- How We Eat for Less than $60 a Month – One of our most popular series of posts, all about how we keep our grocery bill to the minimum.
- How to Save on Electricity – A silent killer of the home budget, learn some strategies to keep it under control.
- Cheap Ways to Stay Warm in Winter – If your heating bill is killing you, this post may warm your heart.
- How to Save Water – More focused on our friends out in the drought-ravaged US West, this post offers solutions to cut down on the water bill.
- Is Your Cellphone Plan Ripping You Off? – We pay $20 for unlimited talk, text, and data for our iPhones. Most people can save thousands of dollars a year by reevaluating their cellphone plans.
- Medi-Share: An Affordable Health Insurance Alternative – Health insurance is a major expense, we share an alternative that may save your bucks and your back.
- How to Never Pay Full Price for Anything (Almost) – This 3 part series introduces some services we use that help us get a deal on nearly every single purchase we make.
- Driving Off a Cliff with a New Car Loan – How we purchase cars has a great deal to do with why we can save so little money.
- Everyday Investing – Our everyday money decisions can be viewed as investments that offer us a rate of return, that way of thinking can help us have a mindset of saving the crumbs.
I know we didn’t cover everything. What tips do YOU have for saving $1 a week with little to no effort?